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The Kid Should See This

The Rolling Dance Chair, an omnidirectional, hands-free wheelchair

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So often, knowing someone who deals with a challenge can help us become more empathetic and more aware of possible solutions for that challenge. Having grown up with a father who she felt was “boxed in” by his manual wheelchair, choreographer Merry Lynn Morris was inspired to invent an omnidirectional power wheelchair. It’s equipped with a rotating seat and can move in any direction hands-free, enabling dancers and others with disabilities to move more freely. From Science Friday:

To command the device, a user straps on a portable, wireless controlβ€”in this case, a cell phoneβ€”to a mobile part of her body, say the head or the upper back. When she leans in a desired direction, the phone detects the movement and instructs the chair to follow suit. (As far as Morris knows, there are no wireless power wheelchairs on the market; she has a U.S. patent on her chair’s technology.)…

Morris calls her invention the Rolling Dance Chair, and she’s been working on it for more than a decade, earning five patents in the process. To her, the chair is more than an accessibility deviceβ€”it’s an opportunity to explore new dance techniques.

…and new uses outside of dance. Morris and her team (a programmer, a designer, and a fabricator) are working on a new version that they hope to make commercially available.

Next: The Kenguru Wheelchair-Accessible Electric Vehicle, a boy who gets his prosthetic hand made by 3-D printer, and technology that’s trying to make wheelchairs obsolete.

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